If you’ve ever had an adolescent son (or been one), you know a boy ‘s best friend is the one with whom he trades wit-covered put-downs. Why is the put-down trade the commerce of male adolescence? And why is this male pattern flaw finding so damaging?

The put-down trade is our adolescent son’s rehearsal for taking criticism as an adult. Taking criticism is a prerequisite to success. The upside is that it prepares men to handle criticism at work and in their personal relation­ships without taking и personally. The downside is the "hidden tax.’’

The hidden tax? The New England Journal of Medicine has recently reported that speaking about one’s faults creates abnormalities in the pulsations of our heart. Tiny abnormalities? No. Abnormalities as great as those produced by riding a bicycle to the point of either exhaustion or chest pain.23 Perhaps the criticism, then, contributes to men being four times more likely than women to suffer heart disease before age fifty.24 In essence, our sons might be practicing heart-disease training.

While men are bonding by giving each other criticism, women are bonding by giving each other support The price men pay Is the feeling of isolation and loneliness. Only now we are discovering that loneliness is a strong predictor of heart disease.25 Heart disease, then, is the hidden tax of the put-down trade. Male pattern flaw finding becomes male pattern heart attacks.